Cycling. Not only a great way to see the sights, but a healthy one too. Throw in the fact it's also fun and two-wheeled travel becomes the foremost way to get from A to B. But guaranteed exercise and fresh air sometimes comes at a price.
The safety of cyclists repeatedly makes the headlines. The most recent annual figures show that 100 cyclists were killed and more than 3,000 were seriously injured in accidents on the UK's roads. To mark BRAKE's National Road Safety Week, Simpson Millar gets on its bike, sending our cyclist on a journey round town to highlight the perils and pitfalls that can plague your path. Click below to start your tour.
Be Safe. Be Legal
Before our cyclist hits the road, she must check her bike is suitable. A pedal cycle must meet certain requirements for it to be road legal. These chiefly relate to brakes and lights. A bike, regardless of type, must be fitted with at least one braking system for it to be used on a public road. Otherwise, you are riding illegally.
You are also breaking the law if you take to the public highways without lights after dark. A white light is required on the front of your bike and a red one at the rear. Pedal and rear reflectors are also a requirement to ensure you remain both safe and legal.
Choose Life. Choose A Helmet
Our cyclist chooses to sport stylish orange headgear, even though cycling without a helmet is not illegal in the UK. A helmet adds an extra level of protection which could mean the difference between life and death. If you survive a cycling accident that wasn't your fault and you were not wearing a helmet, it may have a bearing on any compensation you wish to claim.
Riding without protective headgear does not automatically put you at fault for an accident, but it may, should the claim reach court, find you penalised for contributory negligence. If a Judge decides that the choice not to wear a helmet contributed to your injuries, there's the chance the value of any damages will be reduced to reflect this.
Beware The Demon Driver
A careless driver almost dismounts our cyclist, giving her a mouthful of choice language for his trouble. There is a misconception among some drivers that the humble cyclist is a secondary road user. This has led to incidents of verbal abuse, dangerous driving and even physical assault putting cyclists at risk. And it doesn't matter where upon the cycling hierarchy you sit; to some drivers all are seen as fair game.
Olympic-winning cyclist, Chris Froome, was one such casualty, purposely rammed off the road by a driver. Luckily he escaped serious injury, though the same couldn't be said for his bike.
Cyclists are at far greater risk of injury on the UK's roads than other users and inconsiderate motorists currently do little to redress this imbalance. Vigilance and safe cycling is crucial when up against the hectic pace of modern traffic.
Don't Get Poleaxed By A Pothole
A pitted stretch of road in dire need of maintenance threatens our cyclist's continued health. Potholes are the bane of bike enthusiasts and motorists alike, but whereas a pothole may result in nothing worse than a driver's damaged wheel arch, for a cyclist it could mean serious injury or death. Winter is a particularly fruitful time for potholes and water on the road often obscures their presence and depth.
Responsibility for the repair of potholes lies with whoever is accountable for the road. In 90% of cases this lies with the local council. For injury claims resulting from pothole accidents, the local authority will be contacted first and they can confirm whether the road is publicly maintained or not.
Remain Road-wise In Winter
As the nights draw in and the weather becomes a touch more inclement, our cyclist reaches the final, hazardous leg of her journey. Poor visibility, wet roads, ice, snow and frost come together to create a perfect storm of peril, one that plays a significant part in cyclist fatalities during the winter months.
Besides legally required lights, reflective clothing is an additional way of making your journey safer through the cold, dark streets. The right type of tyres (thicker as opposed to the thinner kind favoured in summer) can also help tackle autumn and winter's slippery roads, ensuring you remain on two wheels.
Simpson Millar, Here To Help
Cycling doesn't have to be an assault course of uncertainty and danger. Protective gear, a road legal bike and an extra helping of common sense can help keep you safe on the road, whatever the weather.
But if an accident occurs that wasn't your fault, you will want to know there's someone on side to fight your corner. Simpson Millar has been securing justice on behalf of its clients for more than a century.
So if you were injured while out cycling and believe you have grounds for a claim, contact us today.